Product review: Timex iControl

I thought I’d change things up from my usual ramblings about whatever and start reviewing some of my favorite and not-so-favorite products. (That’s not to say this won’t turn into a rambling, but at least you may find some value in it.) My family knows me as the “ultimate consumer” when they’re not using my real name. I definitely enjoy trying out new running products, finding ways to make life a little bit easier, and figuring out the latest technology in general. Hopefully you learn something from my mistakes or good fortunes in doing so. Feel free to chime in or add your own opinion/experiences. Mostly, though, it will just be my experiences with the product and a thumbs up or down as to overall value, usability, and my likelihood to recommend it to…well…you!

First up: the Timex iControl

I received the lime green iControl as a gift in 2009. In the beginning, I used it casually while working out with my iPod touch. It was cool, mostly, as a gadget. I’m not huge into watches, and it does a pretty minimal job at being one, so not a problem there for me. Mostly, I just think it’s a poorly designed watch with small buttons, confusing settings, and a pretty average display.

I really liked the Apple-product adapter tool. It allowed me to go forward in my playlist or listen to a song again without practically tripping myself up trying to unlock my iPod screen. So that part was great. The volume button? Not so great. If I pressed down, it went alllll the way down. Up? Yeah. Same thing. So things were pretty acceptable, until it stopped working.

Yes. Literally stopped working out of the blue. According to the research I’ve done, reading message boards and help forums, an OS update Apple did with the iPhones and iPods conflicts with what makes the watch communicate with the adapter, therefore completely demolishing our ability to use the i or the control part of the iControl. It now can only function as a watch. Upset about this, I decided to contact Timex’s customer service about the issue. I was basically told ‘tough cookies’ and that I’d have to buy a new one. Here’s the response I got:

“Thank you for your inquiry.  You can call us at 1-800-328-2677 to order a replacement receiver for your watch.  The cost will be $15.00, plus any applicable tax.”

Wait. What? Really? So you can do that? Sell a product — a potentially rather pricey product depending on where you buy it — and then just say “too bad” when it goes defunct? I understand that it isn’t technically your fault, but this is a product meant to be integrated with Apple products. Work something out with them! Now you have tons of customers who aren’t happy about the software upgrade, and the best you can do is tell them to buy a new watch?

My rating: When it was working, the product was a nifty gadget. Given the events following the OS update, now it’s now a useless mediocre sports watch. Thumbs down, runners.

 

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